‘Posture’ for success!

You know the tired old lines: “Shoulders back, head straight, tummy in. And do balance a book on your head while you walk!!” …

Of course, bad posture will give you neck, back, shoulder aches and pains, which become more severe if not corrected. Physiotherapy may be needed in this instance. 

In this post however, I will explain the other meaning of posture: the one that comes with your particular approach or attitude. In the most positive sense, it also means kindness, humility, knowledge and wisdom. It’s the ‘X’ factor that draws people to you! 

I believe I had some of it in my 20s – but lost it in my 30s when I came to live in Sydney (I was no longer the “stockbroker’s daughter” and singing celebrity!). Thankfully, I rediscovered it in my 40s.

To posture for true success, you’ll need to take steps up to what I call ‘the ladder of self-esteem’. 

It began with the people I met during my time with the Network 21 team in Sydney (see my Self-Esteem post). Gradually, through association and friendship with them (and particularly with Glenda and Uschy), I became the person I am today.

Glenda (left) & Uschy, stalwarts of Network 21.
“You gave me the fuel that lit my dream. Thank you!”

I saw immediately that they stood out from the crowd. Their personality so attracted me: charisma that was cool, but not loud or pompous. Engaging. Humble. Willing to listen. To hear your story. To help you achieve your goals

I know I keep returning to my father – but I believe he was a man with posture simply by being himself.

It’s a regular day at Dad’s stockbroking office. Two phones on his desk ring in tandem, and well-heeled clients swarm everywhere, feeding his adrenaline. His Indian moneylender walks in with a friend, who is introduced as ‘Jeet’. He is dressed in a dhoti and white shirt, and the soles of his black leather shoes are almost worn out.

My father gets up, shakes his hand firmly and asks him to sit down. 

“Jeet, you want a soft drink?”

“No Sir, thank you.”

“Are you married? Do you have children?” 

“Yes, Mr Alex, my wife is in India with my 2 sons. I want to bring them to Singapore. I work very hard and saved $500 to buy shares!  Can you help me?”

Dad pats Jeet’s shoulder and smiles in approval. 

“Don’t worry Jeet, I’ll look after you. Keep working hard and save. We can bring your family here in 2 years. Let me think about what shares to buy for you. Come back tomorrow and we can talk about it, OK?”

Jeet gets up, clasps his hands in a ‘Namaste’ gesture, and bows his head in thanks. He is encouraged, his spirit lifted, and now has a goal. He gives someone he’s only just met his hard-earned $500. Jeet trusts my father not because Dad boasts that he’s a clever stockbroker, but because Jeet’s moneylender friend tells him so.

What did Dad do? There are clues in this story to help you develop your posture and harness the strength of doing these 7 simple but POWERFUL things:

  1. HUMILITY. Do you really want to be with a puffed-up, arrogant windbag who looks down on those “not like them”?
  1. A FIRM HANDSHAKE. A limp, half-hearted one says you’re not interested!
  1. A PERSON’S NAME. “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the most important sound in any language!”1 (And why is it that these days when you ask someone on the phone their name, you can hardly understand what they said?)
  1.  PRAISE AND A SMILE. This is so encouraging and uplifting!
  1. LISTENING. Ask questions, get others to talk about themselves. Do this sincerely and you will make a friend! Read all about ‘active listening’ here
  1. HONESTY AND THE TRUTH. In Dad’s day if you cheated someone, they would take your car away; if you lied, your business would die a slow death. Today it’s the smartphone which can reveal all. Be careful what you say or write online
  1. WORDS. Use words that encourage and inspire, and use them often

Dad had all these qualities. Later on, when I was older, I took a phrase from an ancient Jewish proverb:

“He who walks with the wise grows wise”. 

I began to turn my attention to observing those people I wanted to emulate. They didn’t become successful by accident. Rejections, disappointments, family problems and ill-health came their way. My life seemed blissful compared to theirs. How did they push through and accomplish what they did?

Dad, always practical, would say, “They worked hard and they learned from those smarter than them!” Mum, more imaginative, would tell me, “ … you must keep picturing what you want and it will come true.” And they were both right.  

So I say to you: 

Get a mentor.  

Know your ‘why’. 

Write it down and picture it. 

Work hard and trust your subconscious. 

Our Network 21 business model had a system: cassettes (so last century, I know), books, and live meetings. A business which, if you were serious and built it, would give you passive income. All of us had jobs. This was not something you left your main source of employment to do. 

I heard speakers from various backgrounds who had unimaginable challenges, but those who stayed the course succeeded.  

Learning how to build this business came easily to me. The difficult part was going from an anxious worry-wart to being brave enough to look fear in the eye and say, “SO? WHAT’S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN?!”

The best things that happened to me were actually the worst! I had rejections, excuses and so many disappointments. I couldn’t find the right words to say – only, “I’m sorry I wasted your time”, and then run to my car and cry before gathering enough composure to see the next person.  

Months and years out of the wreckage, I extracted these diamonds:

  • I became a good listener. I asked (many) questions, only to find the problem was never the problem. What an asset in my payroll job. 
  • I learned to observe: your eyes, mouth, hands and even feet, tell me a story. 
  • I discovered ‘metalanguage2 or “how to read between the lines” – so essential when investing! 
  • I formed beautiful friendships worth more than money.
  • I recognised that ‘value’ is far more important than ‘cost’. Know the difference3.  
  • I learned to say ‘Next!’ instead of agonising over mistakes and wrong decisions.  

So much more to tell you, my friends and Pearlers – but this is just another picture out of my Secrets to Success album. I hope I’ve put you on the path to achieving whatever you want to have, to be, or become. 

The lovely graphic is by Kristie Chandra (who also crafted the Shirl’s Pearls logo!)

1 Carnegie, D. [1936, 1981] (1989). How to Win Friends & Influence People [Revised edition], p.113. CollinsAngus&Robertson Publishers Limited: Pymble, New South Wales.

2 Pease, A., & Garner, A. (1985). Talk language: How to use conversation for Profit and Pleasure, pp.3–28. Camel Publishing Company & Pease Training Corporation: Avalon Beach, NSW. 

3 When I joined Network 21, I got comments like “ … all those meetings and travelling, your tapes and books – it must cost a lot!” But in terms of value the cost was negligible. After 30 years, the people, books and tapes are still part of my life – in contrast to all the managers I’ve worked with who never showed any interest in my personal development or advancement.